A couple of days ago, Sequans published a press release announcing the availability of Monarch 2 GM02S “5G-ready” LTE-M/NB-IoT module with power consumption further reduced by 60 percent, featuring an GSMA-compliant integrated SIM (ieUICC), and designed for “Massive IoT” applications.
Wait… What is “Massive IoT”? Ericsson explains:
Massive IoT refers to applications that are less latency sensitive and have relatively low throughput requirements, but require a huge volume of low-cost, low-energy consumption devices on a network with excellent coverage. The growing popularity of IoT use cases in domains that rely on connectivity spanning large areas, and are able to handle a huge number of connections, is driving the demand for massive IoT technologies.
I see… That’s what I used to call LPWAN (Low-power wide-area network) applications, but for sure “Massive IoT” sounds much more cool.
Let’s go back to the module with Sequans Monarch 2 GM02S key features and specifications:
- MCU – Unnamed application MCU for customer application
- Programmable RF filtering for global band support in a single-SKU design (617 MHz to 2.2 GHz)
- Adaptive output power supporting +23dBm, +20dBm and +14dBm
- 50 ohm antenna interface
- Cellular Connectivity
- 3GPP LTE Release 14/15 Cat M1, NB1 and NB2
- LTE bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 66, 70, 71, 85
- Cat M1 – up to 590 kbps DL and 1.1 Mbps UL
- Cat NB1/NB2 – up to 120.7 kbps DL and 160
- Support for external or integrated SIM and eSIM
- GPIO including multiple module wake inputs and high precision LTE-synchronized GPIOs
- 4x UART, I2C, SPI, ADC
- 2x USIM (ISO7816)
- Debugging – JTAG interface
- Power Supply – Single-rail power supply supporting 2.2-5.5V
- Dimensions – 16.3 x 17 x 1.85 mm “S” LGA module
- Temperature Range – -40°C to +85°C
- Certifications (pending)
- GCF and PTCRB
- Country approvals: FCC (US), ISED (Canada), CE/RED (EU), JATE/TELEC (JP), NCC (Taiwan), IMDA (SGP), KCC (S.Korea)
- Carrier-specific approvals
The new module is fully software-compatible with first generation Monarch GM01Q (LTE-M) and Monarch NB01Q (NB-IoT) modules,and includes an embedded LWM2M client, a TCP/IP, LTE-M & NB-IoT LTE software stacks, and support for Sequans Cloud Connector for direct HTTPS, MQTTS, CoAP connection to all cloud platforms. The company will also provide the Sequans Monarch 2 NEKTAR evaluation kit.
I don’t see any reference to 5G in the specifications at all, so what does 5G-ready actually means? I asked the company when the company sent the press release by email two days ago, but I’ve yet to get an answer. While there are already 5G IoT modules those combine the same high-speed 5G connectivity found in smartphones, plus some I/Os. But an infographic by Sierra Wireless explains what 5G-ready means here.
While high-end devices like smartphones and laptops can connect to 5G using mmWave and Sub-6 GHz for high throughput, 4G LTE Cat M and NB-IoT LPWA standard will evolve into a 5G LPWA standard yet to be named? that will offer 145Kbps to 1 Mbps transfer at very low-power and cost. So in the case of Sequans Monarch 2 GM02S module, “5G-ready” means will support the new 5G LPWA standard once it is ratified.
We can see above that upgrading from 4G LTE to 5G sub-6 and mmWave require new hardware, the switch from 4G LPWA to 5G LPWA can simply be done wit ha firmware upgrade and no hardware change. Now does that means any NB-IoT or LTE-M module will be upgradable to 5G LPWA? Probably not…
5G LPWA is expected to start rolling next year, as part of the fourth wave of 5G deployment, and beyond 2021 we’ll get low-latency, high reliability 9URLLC) for “Critical IoT”, non-public networks, 5G from satellite / airbone devices (NTN), and the move to vehicle to everything communication (V2X).
More details about Sequans Monarch 2 GM02S module may eventually surface on the product page.